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An Alternative to Court: Collaborative Divorce

Divorce can be accomplished through a variety of means other than traditional, in-court litigation, including mediation, collaborative divorce, arbitration, private judging, and even do-it-yourself methods. In a previous blog, mediation was discussed, including its advantages and disadvantages. This post discusses a similar but slightly different option for court-free divorce - collaborative divorce - and how it compares with mediation.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation in that it involves flexible, relatively private meetings between the parties with the goal of coming to a mutually agreeable settlement. However, there are a few key differences. While legal counsel is advisable but not by law mandatory in mediation, collaborative divorce requires spouses to be represented by collaborative attorneys. The four individuals (each spouse and his or her collaborative attorney) meet together in what are known as “four-way” meetings.

What Are the Advantages?

Collaborative divorce shares many of the advantages of mediation: it is generally cheaper, more flexible, easier, faster, and less contentious than in-court divorce litigation. However, collaborative divorce also has a few unique benefits. Collaborative divorce allows for even more flexibility in some aspects. For instance, if additional assistance is needed or would be beneficial to the parties, attorneys can recommend getting collaborative professionals involved. The increased involvement of attorneys can help when parties face complex financial, legal, or family issues that the spouses do not feel competent to negotiate alone. And finally, the use of counsel for both spouses can help overcome and lessen the impact of a power imbalance in the relationship to ensure the resulting agreement is fair and reasonable for both parties.

Why Should I Go a Different Route?

Collaborative divorce has one potentially burdensome downside: at the beginning of the collaborative divorce process, all parties and their counsel sign a no-court agreement. If, at the end of the collaborative divorce process, the parties have not come to an agreement, the collaborative attorneys are required to withdraw. This means that both parties would be required to retain new counsel and begin the process over again, potentially wasting time and expense to get new counsel up to speed and losing that which was already invested.

What if I Need More Information?

Like mediation, collaborative divorce can be an excellent method of establishing a mutually agreeable divorce settlement without the expense and stress of court litigation. Also like mediation, it also poses challenges with regards to selecting legal counsel. Not every attorney is qualified or experienced in collaborative divorce or mediation. If you are considering divorce, collaborative or otherwise, consider contacting the attorneys at Schwartz l White in Boca Raton at 561-391-9943 today for a consultation. Unlike many other firms, attorneys at our office are experienced in collaborative divorce, mediation, and other divorce methods specifically, not just with the standard adversarial format. Put this variety of experience to work for you.

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